The Guide to graduate environmental programs by Student Conservation Association (U.S.)

By Student Conservation Association (U.S.)

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By Student Conservation Association (U.S.)

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Candidates, as well as academically oriented master’s degree candidates, must select their own advisors, often early on in their studies. In researching the faculties of various universities, consider their academic backgrounds, the research they are currently conducting, and their interaction with colleagues within their own and other departments. Do not underestimate the relative importance of their teaching skills, accessibility, and concern with student development; a relatively unknown faculty member whose office door is always open may be preferable to a prestigious advisor who is overburdened with travel, research, and publishing commitments (as is often that case at major research universities).

Ask what would strengthen your application if you were to apply again. Often, time and experience will remedy the weaknesses in an application. If you have attended an undergraduate program that is not well known nationally, it may help to volunteer, 2. THE APPLICATION PROCESS 25 intern, or work for a well-known and long-established organization. Or you may be academically strong but lacking in professional experience. In fact, some schools are reluctant to accept students straight out of college; many admissions committees are finding that older students with professional experience add diversity to the student body and interesting perspectives to class discussions.

But even though you may need to consider tuition costs and financial aid availability, do not base your university selection on these factors. Many expensive universities have generous financial 23 2. THE APPLICATION PROCESS aid budgets. Apply to your ideal programs first, and then think about financing. Get a good, comprehensive guidebook to financial aid, as the field is vast, complicated, and beyond the scope of this book. If you are applying for an academic program, most universities will require you to send your application materials to their graduate school office, which in turn will forward your complete file to the appropriate department.

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